Recently, I sent away all of my old t-shirts to be re-purposed into a quilt. Normally, I’m all for sending my old clothes to Goodwill, but something tells me that only a small segment of the community would be looking for my “It’s Not Easy Being Easy” t-shirt (And don’t get any ideas. It was just a print commentary on the difficulties “ladies of the night” face). Plus, I have an emotional reaction to these old duds, which varied in sizes and messages, usually covered by track jackets, hoodies, sweaters and blazers that aided in disguising my shape.
I love clothes and fashion, but at 350 lbs, they didn’t love me. Shopping was such a chore that oftentimes, all I could do was purchase what was available in my size, which was at times limiting and humiliating. In fall 2007, I made a trip to an Old Navy and snagged a few items fro the clearance section. When I got home, I realized that one shirt, a hunter green tee with the words “Las Vegas” emblazoned on the chest, was a size medium, a long way from the 2XL and 3XL shirts I was wearing at the time. I had no real connection with the words on the front, so I could have returned it to the store, but instead I kept the $3.99 tee.
When I packed for my move to DC, I brought the shirt with me. Every few months, I would come across of it in my pile of clothing and think, “What if?” It seemed like such an implausible scenario that I would ever fit into something that size.
One year later, at nearly 220 lbs., I squeezed myself into the shirt for the first time. I stood in front of the mirror, bewildered. Everyone has their quiet moments, where there is no witness but you and your maker. I promised myself that my hard work wouldn’t be taken for granted. The tee had become a symbol of the promise I made to myself. Never mind that I was squeezing in for dear life to hide my belly when I took this pic, and I may have popped a rib contorting myself out of the shirt minutes later, but that victory was mine, dammit!
A year after that, I sported the tee out for the first time, to a rooftop party. It was also a memorable day because it was the first time I wore a shirt in public sans draping of the aforementioned sweaters, etc., and the first time I started to recognize my new shape.
Today, once again that shirt spends more time in the closet than outside of it. Unbelievably, it is now too big for me, but I will never replace it. Something that is possibly my most cherished possession literally took cents to produce, and it has served a very important lesson in my life. To achieve a dream, you have to have something tangible to attach your dreams to, a real-life motivator to help keep you on track.
I have mine. What’s yours?